Thursday, October 19, 2006

'Rat fink

Not often I blog about the Woodrat really, but when you're looking at the bottom of the barrel you scrape up what you may. About a month ago I was moved to make a version of 'Ratter Extrordinaire Aldel's Universal Workholder. And lo', it was good. But I had concerns about the foam board I'd used for the runner, as mentioned here, so when Rutlands had a bit of a sale on everything without a plug, I splashed out on a length of 12mm thick slick UHMW plastic stuff sold for making routing jigs, tablesaw fences and so forth. As it happens, 12mm is just the right thickness for the job and t'was but the work of a moment on the 'Rat to run up a t-shaped piece to replace the foam board. Well worth the effort too - no more sticking but smoooooooth.

Now this stuff can be worked like a rather buttery piece of boxwood - saws, planes, the works. So I had a little play with it, while I was there, trimming a piece on the shooting board and so forth, with a vague view to a project I've had in mind for many years. I think of it as "Woodworker's Feeler Gauges" - like the engineer's variety but of more substantial sizes as would be useful for a woodworker in setting up tools. Now you can buy set up blocks, and indeed I have a set of brass discs in useful thicknesses for that sort of thing, but for setting up my beloved combination planes it'd really be more help if they came in pairs. For before and abaft the cutter, you see? Well I've not done much, but with the various thicknesses of stuff I have about the place I reckon I could get quite a good range of settings. Trouble is I tried getting clever and incorporating useful lengths and widths into the things too, and that's probably a mistake. But as a preliminary recce of the idea, I'm cautiously optimistic. But it's going to take a helluva a long time to make them all at the rate I was going...

The foam board is not as ink-on-wipe-off friendly as the UHMW unfortunately. Heigh ho. I also thought I might try out the stuff as fence material for fenced planes. I mean there's no rule that traditional tools has to mean traditional materials, is there? Next stop garolyte plane soles...*

Other than that I'm in serious "miserable crotchety old bugger" mode and inclined to pick a virtual fight at a drop of a hat. I can only conclude that this is how some forum contributors feel all the time...

*I doubt many readers will get that ref, but it might get a chuckle from at least one


  1. Ha! Not only do I get the reference but I have used the infamous garolyte plane.

  2. Good idea, those woodworkers feeler gauges - might pinch that one. Hope you are soon back to your cheerful young self, Alf :)

    Paul Chapman


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